Public event

The end of democracy in Turkey? The constitutional referendum and German-Turkish relations

Discussion with Hişyar Özsoy, member of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and part of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

On 16 April, Turkey will hold an important referendum to decide whether to change its political system from a parliamentary to a presidential one. The referendum will be held under emergency rule, which has been in place since the failed coup attempt in July 2016, and under which over 40,000 people are being detained on terrorism charges. Among them are members of parliament, mayors of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), prosecutors, judges, and journalists, including Deniz Yücel, a Turkish-German dual citizen.

This referendum also matters for Germany, not least because half of Turkish citizens residing abroad and eligible to vote live in this country. What is at stake in this referendum for Turkey? 

Introductory remarks: Dilek Kurban, Marie Curie Research Fellow

Moderator: Brent Goff, Senior news anchor and talk show host at DW News (Deutsche Welle)

Hisyar Ozsoy was elected as an MP from his hometown Bingol on 7 June 2015 and re-elected on 1 November 2015. Ozsoy is currently serving as the vice co-chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in charge of Foreign Affairs and a member of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT). He is also a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE PA) and a substitute member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

After earning his B.A. in Sociology with distinction from Bogazici University in 2002, Ozsoy moved to the United States to carry out graduate studies in political anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in 2004 and 2010, respectively. Ozsoy also worked as a political advisor and director of foreign affairs at Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality between 2005 and 2008. Between 2011 and 2015, he worked as an assistant professor of social and cultural anthropology at the University of Michigan-Flint, teaching courses in political sociology, political anthropology, social and political transformations as well as courses on Middle Eastern cultures, histories and politics.

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